01/27/2010, 00.00
CHINA
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Revolution at the dinner table, no more dog or cat meat on the menu

A member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences proposes new legislation to ban eating dog and cat meat. In southern China, such animals are considered a culinary delicacy. Even North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il once ordered takeaway dog meat. Each year, some ten million animals end up as food for human consumption.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For the first time in Chinese history, a animal rights proposal has been made, which would ban selling, cooking and eating dogs and cats. If adopted, it would make such commerce a criminal offence carrying a maximum 5,000 yuan (US$ 730) fine and 15 days detention.

The proposal’s main advocate is Chang Jiwen, a social law researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He has spearheaded animal welfare legislation for the past 11 years. His 181-clause proposal was presented last September for public consultation.

In an interview with The Mirror, Chang said that over the last four months, he has received a great deal of support, but some people are still unwilling to grasp the concept of animal welfare

He therefore decided to focus on pushing for legislation on torture first, and hoped to be able to pass the draft to the relevant government department for consideration in April.

In recent years, animal welfare has attracted growing attention in mainland China. For instance, the government’s decision to cull stray dogs across the country as a means to combat rabies drew fire from critics. In response, the authorities cited in their defence China’s ancestral traditions and culinary practices. But many others still remember the SARS outbreak caused by eating Masked Palm Civet meat.

"Banning consumption of dogs and cats should not have much impact. Given the improvement in our standard of living, the number of people eating dogs and cats is minimal," Chang said.

Still in southern China, dogs and cats remain a culinary delicacy. Ten million dogs and four million cats are sold as food for human consumption every year.

In Guangzhou, capital of the rich southern province of Guangdong, staff at one of the restaurants known for serving such meats remember North Korean leader Kim Jong-il ordering takeaway dog meat.

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